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New White House Office Would Protect Supply Chain, Fight IP Theft

by Chris Brook on Tuesday May 26, 2020

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A new bipartisan bill would create a White House office tasked with protecting against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains.

A bipartisan bill is aiming to better safeguard the supply chain from threats and protect intellectual property from state-sponsored technology theft.

The bill, introduced by Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Friday, would establish a new office at the White House, the Office of Critical Technologies and Security, to oversee directed technology transfers and threats to U.S. national security. Specifically the office would be in charge of developing a “a whole-of-government response to protect critical emerging, foundational, and dual-use technologies and to effectively enlist the support of regulators, the private sector, and other scientific and technical hubs, including academia, to support and assist with such response.”

To that effect the text of the bill says the office would also do a lot of interoffice coordination, between the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, and international, federal, state, and local entities on policy.

The office would be tasked with having to better educate U.S. public and business leaders about the threats associated with the "improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by countries that pose a national security risk" and the increased reliance on foreign products that pose a risk.

The bill comes a few weeks after Warner, in a speech at the Center for a New American Security, called for a new "cyber doctrine" to combat emerging cybersecurity threats to the nation and its infrastructure.

“It is clear that China is determined to use every tool in its arsenal to surpass the United States technologically and dominate us economically. We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat by combating technology transfer from the United States, ” Warner said Friday.

Rubio, echoing those sentiments, said interagency coordination would be a key benefit of the bill.

“China continues to conduct a coordinated assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Senator Rubio said Friday. “The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology. We must continue to do everything possible to prevent foreign theft of our technology, and interference in our networks and critical infrastructure.”

Ensuring supply chain integrity, one of the Office of Critical Technologies and Security's primary goals, has been a constant struggle for enterprises, especially amid heightened U.S.-Chinese tensions.

The U.S. in October blocked sales of American parts to a China-owned semiconductor company over intellectual property concerns. In November the Department of Justice charged the same company with conspiring to steal trade secrets from a U.S. manufacturer.

Last year the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimated the annual costs from the loss of intellectual property totaled between $225 billion to $600 billion.

Tags: IP theft

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Chris Brook

Chris Brook is the editor of Data Insider. He is a technology journalist with a decade of experience writing about information security, hackers, and privacy. Chris has attended many infosec conferences and has interviewed hackers and security researchers. Prior to joining Digital Guardian he helped launch Threatpost, an independent news site which is a leading source of information about IT and business security for hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide.